FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 06 September 2016

Manuka Honey Makes Bacteria Less Resistant To Antibiotics

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Rowena Jenkins, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Manuka honey has been a firm favourite on health food shop shelves for several years now, but has long been used as a natural remedy by the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand. The dark, sticky nectar is known as the "healing honey" for a reason: it has antiviral and antibacterial properties that have been used to battle bugs for centuries.

More recently, the honey, which is made by bees from the nectar of the Manuka tree, has been employed in hospitals around the world to treat wounds. Research has found that the honey's high sugar content, acidity and the presence of various other components like methylglyoxal, create an environment in which bacteria are unable to survive.

One of the biggest threats to human health is antibiotic resistant bacteria and as researchers around the world work to find a way to battle these bugs, we're looking at how this sweet "superfood" could help.

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem seen in many different types of bacteria. As treatment options continue to dwindle, it has been recognised as a global threat - one that has grown worse not only because of a rise in resistance, but also due to the decrease in both the discovery and production of new drugs. Analysts have estimated that if no new antibiotics or alternative treatment strategies are found by 2050, 10m people a year will die from antibiotic resistant infections. This will be more deaths than from any other single cause, including cancer and diabetes.

Healing honey

A British honey bee investigates a Manuka flower. Barry Batchelor / PA Archive/Press Association Images

The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, commonly found in wound infections, are both associated with serious multi antibiotic resistant infections. Each is difficult to treat and can lead to complications, and death. The fact that they are resistant to antibiotics often means there are limited treatments available.

A number of options to combat resistance are currently being investigated, however. One of which is the use of natural products, either alone or in combination with antibiotics. Indeed, many natural products, such as honey, green tea, garlic and turmeric, have been identified over the years as potential antimicrobial agents.

Medical application

In ancient times, the type of honey used to treat a person often depended on their geographical location and the type of ailment. Manuka, for example, was used as a topical ointment for wounds and ulcers by the Maori people. Much of the evidence for the effectiveness of the honey treatment was anecdotal, however, with no real research to rely on.

These days, standardised sterile medical grade Manuka honey is available, and there is considerable evidence demonstrating its antibacterial effect against a wide range of infections. Furthermore, we now have explanations for the different process by which this particular honey can kill both Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Laboratory testing of antibiotics - such as oxacillin, rifampicin, tetracycline and colistin - has revealed that the drugs have an increased potency against either Pseudomonas aeruginosa or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) when combined with very low concentrations of medical grade Manuka honey. When used to fight MRSA, the honey damages the bacterial genes involved in creating resistance to oxacilin, which then allows oxacillin to better kill the bacteria. The specific mechanism by which Manuka honey restores the power of the other three antibiotics is not yet clear, though several different research groups have now reported the improved effectiveness of antibiotics when combined with honey.

Working together

Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Importantly, many different components within honey have been identified as having activity: this means that these components work together to target different parts of the bacteria, making it much more unlikely that bacteria will develop a resistance to honey in the way they do to antibiotics, which tend to have a single target that the bacteria evolve to bypass.

As some infections are resistant to multiple antibiotics, some treatments combine two or more drugs to battle infections. Our research suggests that Manuka honey has the potential to be used in a similar way, combined with antibiotics. As most infections come from a mixture of different bacteria, identifying an antibiotic which works better against them when combined with honey would be the most useful. We have successfully seen this effect, using honey to improve the efficacy of the drug tetracycline against both Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA.

Future research is obviously needed before the treatment can be used in hospitals, however. We need to test a larger range of antibiotic resistant bacteria and see whether the medical grade honey has similar effects on different species likely to be found together in an infection, when combined with a range of drugs. It will also be essential to see if these effects are reproducible in a clinical setting, and not just in the laboratory.

But what we have seen is very promising. The fact that medical grade Manuka honey could potentially be used to increase the potency of some commonly used antibiotics against bacteria could change the way we view other "traditional" remedies, too.

The ConversationRowena Jenkins, Lecturer in microbiology, Cardiff Metropolitan University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Rising Tide Does Not Lift All Ships
Comments on Feyerabend’s ‘Against Method’, Part II
News Blog
Docking A Huge Cruise Ship Is More Complicated Than You Think
New Seasonal Outlook Updates from NOAA and JAMSTEC - Let's Compare Them.
Infographic Of The Day: Driving Into A Battery Powered Future
Earthquake Risk - Location Matters
Investor Alert: Be On The Lookout For Investment Scams Related To Hurricane Matthew
Lost In Translation: Five Common English Phrases You May Be Using Incorrectly
The Size And Scope Of Samsung's Business
Immigration Is The Top Worry For Britons
People Killed By Russian Airstrikes In Syria
Have You Taken These 4 Simple Steps To Improve Your Trading?
14 October 2016: ECRI's WLI Growth Index Insignificantly Declines
Mom Breaks Down In Tears When Son With Autism Meets Service Dog
Rail Week Ending 15 October 2016 Paints A Negative Economic View
Investing Blog
FinTech Is Taking A Bite Out Of Banks
Options Early Assignment - Should You Worry?
Opinion Blog
US 2016 Election: Will US-China Relations Change
Prop. 51 Versus A State-Owned Bank: How California Can Save $10 Billion On A $9 Billion Loan
Precious Metals Blog
How Will The Election Outcome Impact Precious Metals?
Live Markets
21Oct2016 Market Close: Major US Indexes Close Flat On Low Volume, Crude Prices Resume Climb, US Dollar Stabilizes In Mid 98 Handle, Yes, Most Investors Are Worried Which Way This Market Will Go
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

Crowdfunding ....



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved